How Ideas Are Created at Runtastic – Day of New Ideas
Every first Thursday of the month is a very special day for us Runtastics. It is the Day Of New Ideas – or as we lovingly call it, our DONI. On this special day the whole company presses pause on their regular activities and routines to collaborate on exploring new ideas, creating something new or improving something already in existence.
DONI was first introduced in 2012 and has been held ever since. While there have been changes through the years, it has always remained an integral part of Runtastic. DONI has resulted in many cool projects and improvements for the company, like a treadmill with a desk for laptops (allowing employees to exercise and work at the same time), the integration of a new programming language (Swift) for our iOS team or Runtastic’s team page (an interactive room plan in which you can see where every employee is seated in the office including contact details and photos).
To give you a first-hand experience, we talked to one of our Runtastics about her experience with DONI. Marlene is doing an internship in Human Resources at the moment and participated in DONI for the first time last month. The first time she heard about it she got really excited: “What a cool idea to step away from your daily tasks for a while and focus on new ideas, improvements, inventions and changes, no matter how farfetched they might sound.”
Setting a foundation
Three days before every DONI, all ideas are collected so that everybody can choose the project they want to work on beforehand. Anyone can share their ideas. It could be a thought that has been floating around in your head for quite some time and that you now want to put into practice, a project that has been worked on before or something completely new. There are no limits to the topics – they just have to be somehow related to Runtastic. Luckily, our staff are full of ideas, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t come up with a project yourself. You can just join one of the other project teams.
It may even be the case that there are so many interesting ideas that it is hard to decide which you want to work on, like it was for our intern Marlene: “It wasn’t easy for me to choose. I mean, would you rather help create an office wish list, make a really cool video about Runtastic or work on collaborations with interesting companies?” We agree, making choices can be difficult!
Let the games begin
When DONI finally starts, all Runtastics meet in our lunch area at 8:00 am (yes, we all fit in there – no, it’s not easy). Stefan, our Head of iOS Development and basically the father of DONI, quickly goes through the topics to make sure everybody is assigned to one. It is also a chance for last minute project changes. Then the magic starts happening and the teams get together, grab a coffee and choose a place to work. A team mostly consists of three to five people and often includes colleagues from different departments, so you also get the chance to work with and get inspired by people you do not get to see that often during your normal work day.
Marlene’s team for example consisted of Backend Development, Advertising, Translations, Customer Support and Human Resources – so it was a pretty diverse mix. Since all team members were quite new to Runtastic, it was the first DONI for all of them. “Working with people from different departments creates a really unique working atmosphere,” Marlene reported.
Turning thoughts into action
Now it is time to get started and try to develop a project as far as you can on one DONI. Each team is free to organize the work the way they want. One idea can lead to another and the output can be entirely different than what you had in mind at the beginning.
Unfortunately, Marlene and her team’s project came to an end quite soon. Due to legal questions, they had to abandon their plan of collaborating with other companies. “We were all a bit disappointed,” Marlene said, “after all, we had been looking forward to working on this project.” Still, they tried to make the best of it and decided to split up and join different projects. Since everybody at Runtastic is really open and nice, it was not hard for them to find a new group to work with and in the end they were all quite satisfied with their new teams and topics.
We proudly present…
At about 3:30 pm, people start to present their results. Every team has exactly three minutes to do so and that is a challenge in itself. It is always really exciting to see what the other teams have come up with. DONI finally ends with pizza and the chance to talk to colleagues about their projects, how their day went and what they think of the different outcomes.
At Runtastic you can always give your input and bring your ideas to the table, whether you are an intern or a team lead. This is even truer on DONI. Marlene definitely enjoyed her first DONI: “It is a unique opportunity to create something new, to work with different people and to think outside the box. I think it is a very beneficial experience, one which you don’t often find in Austrian companies.” She is already looking forward to participating in the next DONI.
Do you have some ideas we should definitely pursue on the next DONI? Tell us in the comments!